Sturm: Inconvenient truths denied by climate faithful
September 11, 2014
At the tumultuous summer's close, when throat-slashing, genocidal jihadists and economic malaise dominated headlines and our psyches, Hillary Clinton announced her preoccupation.
"Climate change is the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face," she proclaimed, adding, "no matter what the deniers try to assert" — thus dismissing from polite society those inclined to Think Again about America's greatest concerns.
Like Clinton, members of the "Church of Settled Science" invoke the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial to reject those deeming climate change less dangerous than other threats, such as the Islamic State, a nuclear Iran, a debt-laden stagnant economy or record levels of poverty.
Their Church gospel considers it "anti-science" to believe climate change is a naturally reoccurring phenomenon to which mankind has always adapted, and still can. After all, as Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore said before Congress, because "frost and ice are the enemies of life … a warmer temperature than today's would be far better than a cooler one."
Nevertheless, it's an excommunicable sin to oppose tax and regulatory policies that would barely limit global emissions but would increase economy-wide prices, retard economies and reduce standards of living — disproportionately among the poor.
According to their dogma, it's blasphemous to oppose giving unaccountable bureaucrats (in the EPA or internationally) unprecedented power to centrally plan and control economic life without even a vote of Congress.
That's because the faithful overlook the stunning failure of their doomsday-predicting models to forecast warming's nearly 18-year pause (confirmed by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) or Al Gore's 2007 prediction that polar bears' Arctic habitat would be ice-free by 2013.
Thankfully for children fearing polar bear extinction, current satellite readings by the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center reveal Arctic ice larger than when Gore accepted the Nobel Peace Prize for his global-warming activism — an Alaska-sized expansion since 2012.
Clearly scientists don't yet understand the relationship between rising CO2 levels and global warming — now conveniently called climate change, rendering all planetary events explainable by a theory whose falsification is impossible.
Unfortunately, the skepticism required for scientific discovery is now punished, as MIT professor of atmospheric physics Richard Lindzen described. "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse," he wrote. "Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis."
Today, skepticism is synonymous with greed and immorality to church adherents who bask in the influence and profits they derive from sermonizing and policy advocacy. Yet, they ignore the "inconvenient truth" that their policies adversely impact the lifestyles of the budget conscience.
So, who are the heretics?
Are they alarmists intent on circumventing scientific inquiry and the free and open debate on which national consensus in a pluralistic democracy depends, or skeptics "not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead," as Thomas Jefferson encouraged?
"It is error alone which needs the support of government," Jefferson believed, because "truth can stand by itself."
In his farewell address, noteworthy for military-industrial-complex warnings, President Dwight Eisenhower articulated the modern version of Jefferson's concern. "A government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity," he said, and "the prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded."
The modern era is awash in government-abetted tragedies precipitated by theories claiming to advance the human condition but which, in fact, involved anti-poor and anti-progress policies. Thomas Malthus' theory that population would always outstrip resources justified 19th-century British tax and regulatory policies to constrain human aspirations. The result was poverty-induced famine in Ireland and India and 20 million victims.
Ensuing in the 20th century were even more deadly policies — derived from Malthusian-based eugenics and resource depletion theories — proving Jefferson's observation that "even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."
Malthus' theories are as wrong as they are immoral. Since his time, world population grew seven-fold as well-being (world GDP per capita) grew 50-fold, thanks to human ingenuity and economic freedom.
Today, life-enhancing devices unimaginable to Malthus — refrigerators, phones, air-conditioning, cars and televisions — are commonplace, except among the poorest. Why decrease their affordability by increasing the cost of the energy required to make, distribute and run them?
The truth is affordable energy and the economic growth and well-being it enables are the keys to addressing our greatest concerns, including the environment, joblessness, poverty and indebtedness — even terrorism.
Think Again: To pass a secure, prosperous and clean world to future generations, shouldn't we encourage, not constrain, the scientific inquiry that informs and unleashes boundless human creativity?
Melanie Sturm lives in Aspen. She reminds readers to Think Again. You might change your mind. She welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.